Spain views cup draw with unease, excitement
Spain doesn’t know what to make of its World Cup draw. Some are
confident, while others are fearful.
The 2010 winners prepare to defend their title in Brazil with a
squad in transition and several key players struggling to find
their usual impressive form this season.
Drawn alongside the Netherlands, Chile, and Australia in a tough
Group B, Andres Iniesta was spurred on by the prospect of having
all to play for from the opening kickoff.
”Exciting group to start the World Cup,” Iniesta tweeted,
Spain opens the World Cup on June 13 at Salvador against the
same team it beat in the 2010 final, the Netherlands, when Iniesta
scored the stoppage-time winner in a 1-0 win in Johannesburg.
But Spain goes to Brazil with more doubts than certainties,
despite having picked up a second straight European Championship
The nucleus of the team that has provided so much success is
older, with key players like Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Xabi
Alonso dealing with injuries this season.
Captain Iker Casillas is not even Real Madrid’s starting
And while Spanish strikers like Alvaro Negredo and Fernando
Llorente are succeeding in Europe, coach Vicente del Bosque may opt
for Diego Costa, a Brazilian-born, naturalized Spaniard, to lead
”We’re going to have to be prepared from day one,” Del Bosque
said. ”That would certainly be better for our strength of mind. It
depends on us and the state of mind with which we approach the
Sports dailies As and Marca called Group B ”lethal” and
”dangerous,” with the latter saying ”We Start with a Final.” La
Vanguardia newspaper called it ”The Group of Death.”
Spain lost the last final it played – a 3-0 defeat to Brazil for
the Confederations Cup earlier this year.
The European champions have shown defensive frailties in World
Cup qualifying, dropping points against France and Finland on home
soil after conceding late goals. It has also been used to poor
showings in international friendlies.
”It is a complicated group. It is difficult, but there you
go,” said Spain supporter Alberto Rey, 33, as he watched the draw
alongside friends in a local bar in the Spanish capital. ”But I
think we can get to be top of the group with the team that we
Despite some frailties, Spain is a team rich in talent with
perhaps the top collection of midfielders in the world with
established talents like Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, and David Silva,
plus the likes of Javi Martinez, Thiago, and Isco waiting for their
Stress may have already set in for the normally calm Del Bosque,
who could have the toughest task ahead in choosing his squad for
Brazil. The reaction of his players to the draw seems to indicate
they are ready to rise to the occasion.
”Nobody said it was going to be easy,” defender Gerard Pique
tweeted. ”Netherlands, Chile and Australia in our group!”
Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter (at)PaulLogoAP